Two Republican lawmakers in Idaho introduced legislation that would make it a misdemeanor for anyone in the state to administer mRNA-based vaccines — namely Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s life-saving and remarkably safe COVID-19 vaccines. If passed as written, it would also preemptively ban the use of countless other mRNA vaccines currently in development, including vaccines against RSV, a variety of cancers, HIV, influenza, Nipah virus, and cystic fibrosis, among others.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Tammy Nichols of Middleton and Rep. Judy Boyle of Midvale, both staunch conservatives who say they stand for liberty and the right to life. But her bill HB154suggests that “a person must not provide or administer a vaccine designed using messenger ribonucleic acid [mRNA] Technology for use in an individual or other mammal in this state.” If passed into law, anyone who administers life-saving mRNA-based vaccines would be guilty of a misdemeanor that could result in a prison sentence and/or a fine.
Presenting the bill to the House Health & Welfare Committee last week, Nichols said her anti-mRNA stance stemmed from the fact that the COVID-19 vaccines were originally authorized under Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorizations (EUAs), does not require full regulatory approval from the agency. “We have problems that this has been rushed,” she told other lawmakers. according to local news outlet KXLY.com.
The EUAs for the two mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines were issued in December 2020 and the FDA subsequently granted full approval to both (Pfizer BioNTech in August 2021 And Moderna in January 2022). This was pointed out to Nichols at last week’s hearing.
“They were ultimately approved through the ordinary approval process and ultimately, as you know, passed the scrutiny of being subjected to all the normal tests,” said Rep. Ilana Rubel, a Boise Democrat.
Nichols, however, acted unimpressed by the point KTVB7 coverage that she responded that the FDA approval “may not have happened the way we thought it should have happened.”
It is unclear what Nichols meant by this statement or why possible questions about regulatory review of two specific vaccines would justify criminalizing the use of all vaccines with a similar platform.
To date, more than 269 million people in the United States have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine, and over 700 million doses of mRNA-based vaccines have entered American arms, according to data Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency closely monitors security through various national surveillance systems. Although the shots carry some risk (as with any medical procedure), they have proven remarkably safe given the widespread use of hundreds of millions of doses in the US and around the world. A study The study, released late last year, found that the COVID-19 vaccination averted more than 18 million extra hospitalizations and more than 3 million extra deaths from the pandemic coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
There have been rare reports of adverse events including blood clots and inflammation of the heart muscle and lining (myocarditis and pericarditis). However, these problems are very rare and tend to be mild in the case of myocarditis and pericarditis. Independent health professionals who advise the FDA and CDC have consistently found that the risk of developing these diseases does not outweigh the benefits of vaccination.
mRNA-based vaccines made their public debut amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but researchers at the National Institutes of Health and drug companies had been working on these vaccines for decades beforehand. In fact, in 2016, Moderna began working with the NIH to develop a general design for mRNA-based vaccines. One of their first targets for such a vaccine was a relative of SARS-CoV-2, the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS). By 2019, Moderna and the NIH are finalizing plans for a clinical trial of a Nipah virus mRNA vaccine.
Generally, The vaccines work by supplying our cells with a section of an artificially stabilized genetic code – in the form of messenger RNA – that is wrapped in a fatty envelope. In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, the genetic code is used to make SARS-CoV-2 a crucial protein called the spike protein, which typically sticks out from the virus’s surface and helps it enter human cells. Once the vaccine’s fat packet is delivered, our cells translate the mRNA code into a protein – in this case the spike protein – which can then be used to train immune cells to attack invaders with the same protein – in this case SARS identify and attack -CoV-2.
Given the massive success of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, expectations are high that the platform can be used to combat a variety of other infectious and non-infectious diseases. Moderna, for example, has a broad pipeline of mRNA-based vaccines in the works. Earlier this year, the company reported results from a late-stage clinical study that suggested its mRNA-based vaccine against RSV (respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus) was highly effective. RSV is a common respiratory virus that can be deadly in older adults and young children.
In Idaho, it’s unclear whether Nichols and Boyle’s bill will make it through committee and into law. Its introduction, however, fits into a worrying trend by conservative lawmakers Attack on the life-saving vaccine and evidence-based medicine in general.
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